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Today, to mark World Mental Health Day, over 90 primary school pupils will come together at Ulster University’s Coleraine campus for a series of workshops promoting positive psychological wellbeing.

Research has shown that 50% of mental health problems emerge by the age of 14 so early intervention and mental health promotion are of paramount importance. Mental health issues in children can have a significant impact on social relationships, school and occupational achievement, physical health and implications on self-esteem and behaviour.

Researchers from Ulster University’s Institute of Mental Health Sciences are sharing their knowledge and expertise with children from the local community to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Primary 7 pupils from Leaney Primary School in Coleraine, St Matthews Primary School in Limavady and Ballycastle Integrated Primary School will take part in three workshops focusing on understanding emotions and how to build resilience; including a session on mindfulness and another on how the brain processes emotions.

Professor Cherie Armour, Director of the Institute of Mental Health Sciences, Associate Dean of Research & Impact, Ulster University, commented:

“Unfortunately, mental health issues are prevalent among young people in Northern Ireland. DHSSPS (2015) reported that an estimated 45,000 children and young people in NI reporting a mental health need at any one time. Today’s workshops are designed to help children cope in times of stress and adversity. Our aim is to help children understand the wide range of emotions they may be experiencing and help them develop techniques to cope with anything that life may throw at them.

“Ulster University is at the forefront of mental health research. Our Institute of Mental Health Sciences is working to facilitate a greater understanding of the impact of mental health on individuals and society and to inform a much-needed step change in mental health prevention and care in Northern Ireland and further afield.“

Lorraine Lavery-Bowen, Schools Partnership Manager, Ulster University added:

"We are delighted to welcome our neighbouring schools on to the Coleraine campus on World Mental Health Day. Primary 7 can be a particularly challenging year for pupils as they prepare to transition in to what they call 'big school'. Through today's workshops we hope that they will have learnt some excellent tips on how to understand their emotions and how to better cope with stressful situations."